Monday, August 22, 2005
Young Quakers who planned to take part in the World Gathering of Young Friends at Lancaster University, England have been unable to attend after having their visas denied.
Their absence has been a cause of "hurt" at the meetings. Sara Wolcott of Pacific Yearly Meeting on the Western coast of America wrote in a journal on the WGYF website: "I saw [in a workshop for Friends planning to meet in Kenya] how much the absence of so many Friends was felt; the gathering felt incomplete. We desperately wanted our brothers and sisters to be with us, I know they wanted to be here too."
Most of the denials were for economic reasons, if someone doesn't have a high enough income or a fixed job it can be assumed that they will stay in the country for work. Representatives from the gathering now plan to go to Kenya in October to share some of the programme with those who were unable to come.
Despite the missing Friends, the gathering has brought together a mix of different Quaker traditions in a positive atmosphere that has been appreciated by participants. Many Quakers worship in silence (unprogrammed meetings) while others, particularly in America and Africa, have ministers like other churches. Quakers also have differences of opinion over theological issues, including even the existence of God, but the young Friends have not found this to be an obstacle to coming together. Unlike many traditional Christian sects, the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, encourage each member to explore his or her own relationship with God.
Chrissy Muhr of Northwest Yearly Meeting (Northwest US) wrote: "I've been really impressed by how the mix of worship styles has been handled. Almost all the programmed Friends I've spoken to have some prior experience of unprogrammed worship. For me, the hardest thing has been not falling asleep during long periods of silence - the long week has begun to take its toll."
== Sources ==
John Fitzgerald. "African Quakers at the gathering" — WGYF, August 22, 2005Sara Woolcott. "Journal" — WGYF, August 22, 2005Chrissy Muhr. "Reflection on the week" — WGYF, August 22, 2005